Biomass is a controversial issue in the energy world. For lots of people, it’s a non-hazardous, renewable means of powering homes and industry. Others claim biomass has a devastating impact on natural forestry and releases harmful gas.
As the race for safe renewables ramps up and people increasingly campaign for energy that isn’t reliant on fossil fuels, Biomass is in the spotlight.
In the UK, plans to build a £300m biomass power plant in Northumberland have been scrapped following uncertainty and a lack of clarity in the government regarding energy policy.
Rubb Buildings, which constructs specialised biomass facilities, argues that Biomass is a good source of renewable ‘green’ energy and should not be ignored.
The Benefits of Biomass
Biomass energy is harnessed through the organic matter contained in plants and animals. Biomass typically includes wood chips, trees, manure, sewage and mulch. The energy is classed as renewable because the Co2 and water contained in the material is released back into the environment when burned and can be grown again.
The advantages of biomass are many. Unlike most conventional energy sources, Biomass doesn’t emit Co2 pollution – helping limit the greenhouse effect. Biomass is also renewable as it comes from living sources, relying on the life cycle of nature to provide new fuel.
Another advantage of biomass is that it reduces landfill waste. It takes the waste products and turns them into energy. By reducing dependency on fossil fuels, using waste that would otherwise be thrown in landfills and by providing energy from a diverse range of living waste, Biomass maintains its position as a strong energy production method for an energy-conscious world.
Biomass is often falsely misattributed as being an energy source reliant on deforestation. While it is true that forests are harvested for energy in many countries, Biomass applies to lots of living waste products that aren’t just wood. Since the production of biomass relies on living things, the method is expensive due to the costs associated with raising/housing/growing living things.
While it doesn’t release harmful Co2 emissions, Biomass instead releases methane gas. This damages the Earth’s ozone layer and also emits a strong smell, so biomass facilities shouldn’t be installed near communities.
Finally, the issue that affects the majority of renewables is the same with biomass – they aren’t as efficient as fossil fuel burning.
In a world that is running out of fossil fuels, Biomass will play an increasing role. Despite the disadvantages, it is a plentiful resource and new technology to increase efficiency is under constant development. Currently, Biomass accounts for 9% of the world’s total energy requirements. With the focus on green energy and renewables, who knows how much this figure will increase?
Rubb Buildings is a construction company specialising in bespoke facilities, from Biomass, waste management and port storage.